By Keith Idec
One of the most explosive punchers in boxing is about to get a lot more exposure.
Carl Moretti, vice president of boxing operations for Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday that Artur Beterbiev’s next fight will be televised by ESPN as part of the company’s partnership with the cable giant. The Russian knockout artist’s IBF elimination match against Enrico Koelling likely will be broadcast by ESPN sometime in October from an undetermined site.
The winner between Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs) and Germany’s Koelling (23-1, 6 KOs) will become the IBF’s mandatory challenger for light heavyweight champion Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs).
Beterbiev is ranked No. 2 by the IBF, one spot ahead of Koelling. The No. 1 spot in the IBF’s 175-pound rankings is unoccupied.
Top Rank secured the right to promote the Beterbiev-Koelling bout Tuesday by winning a purse bid at the IBF’s headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey. Top Rank bid $315,000. Sauerland Event, Koelling’s promoter, was the only other bidder ($80,000).
Yvon Michel, the unbeaten Beterbiev’s promoter, did not submit a bid, presumably because they are engaged in litigation regarding the validity of Beterbiev’s promotional contract. Top Rank’s winning bid Tuesday sparked speculation within the boxing industry that Top Rank eventually will become Beterbiev’s promoter.
Moretti declined comment regarding Beterbiev’s business battle with Michel and the possibility of Top Rank working with Beterbiev beyond his fight against Koelling.
He expressed enthusiasm, though, about Top Rank being able to showcase Beterbiev to the expansive audience ESPN can reach. The hard-hitting, 32-year-old contender has fought 10 of his 11 professional fights in Quebec since he turned pro under the Quebec-based Michel’s promotional banner four years ago.
“We at Top Rank believe Andre Ward is the best light heavyweight in boxing,” Moretti told BoxingScene.com. “We also believe the next best fighters in the division are [Oleksandr] Gvozdyk and Beterbiev. And to have those guys on ESPN over the coming weeks & months we believe is great exposure for them, as well as for the division.”
Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KOs) is scheduled to face Craig Baker (17-1, 13 KOs), of Baytown, Texas, in a 10-round fight August 19 on the Terence Crawford-Julius Indongo undercard at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.